The government's rapid and unexpected legalisation of parallel importing of copyright goods has fallen plum into the lap of the Internet Group (Ihug).
Ihug's online shopping venture (at www.mall.co.nz) could be open for business as early as this week — and its core offerings will be exactly those opened up by the government's alteration to the Copyright Act.
Ihug director Tim Wood admits to being "very happy" about the controversial government move. "All those guys who've been sitting on their contracts and not really putting in much effort are really going to have to raise their game, because people like us now will be able to bring that stuff in. And we'll obviously pass on the benefits to our customers."
Where Xtra has sought to woo major retailers into its version of a cybermall, Ihug will itself stock and sell most of the goods for sale through its site. "We're not hosting other people's shops, we're actually going to hold product ourselves, like books and CDs and software," says Wood. "We've also got partnerships with NEC and other people. You'll buy stuff from us and orders will be passed on to NEC and shipped out by them."
Like Xtra, Ihug has signed up for a connection with Buyline, the Bank of New Zealand e-commerce service which provides real-time processing of credit card transactions.
Ihug is also keeping its travel agency — which will operate from www.travelonline. co.nz — in-house.
Two dedicated travel staff have been hired for the service.
Wood hopes for a late June launch for the travel service, "maybe earlier, but with not quite the full interactivity."